West Dunbartonshire care leavers receive help with independent living

Young people who were previously in care are set to benefit from increased support for moving into their first home.

West Dunbartonshire Health & Social Care Partnership (HSCP) and West Dunbartonshire Council’s housing team have jointly developed a Leaving Care Housing Protocol outlining the ongoing advice, guidance and assistance for care leavers on how to live independently.

Cared-for people are young people who have been looked after and accommodated by the council. When they turn 26, they become ‘care leavers’. The new protocol has been set up to allow this vulnerable group to have their ambitions and support needs outlined and understood, while ensuring they have a secure place to call home. Under the protocol, no care leaver will become homeless on leaving care.

The protocol promotes the principle that care leavers will be provided with the securest form of tenancy available to them. Currently in West Dunbartonshire, those young people leaving care who require housing generally access this via the homeless route. Going forward, the council will ensure that these young people have as good a chance as any other young person of making a success of their lives.

Peter Barry, the council’s strategic lead for housing & employability, said: “Children who spend time in care often have unique challenges to face already and it is only right that we do everything that we can to ensure access to housing is not one of those challenges. This protocol outlines our commitment to providing all the assistance we can to help these young people become independent and to have the same opportunities as everyone else.”

Jackie Irvine, head of children’s health, care & criminal justice with West Dunbartonshire HSCP, added: “We are proud to have developed this protocol and to be affirming our commitment to giving every young person the help they might need to realise their ambitions. Being independent is a big step towards that and this policy will be a very positive thing for our care leavers.”

The protocol also complements the ongoing review of the council’s housing allocations policy, which will introduce Young Care Leavers as a group given reasonable preference to housing. West Dunbartonshire will be one of the first councils in Scotland to introduce such a provision.

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